Child health insurance program is two years old
This February 2011 has seen one of those milestones sneak quietly by without anyone really noticing. The Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIRPA) has been out there for two years, helping an increasing number of children to gain access to essential health coverage. To celebrate this small landmark, the US Department of Health and Human Services has just released a report detailing the extent of the progress made. Letís be clear. The criteria for every child to get access to the benefits has always been clearly defined, but many states have found reasons to exclude them. In 2010, more than 2 million eligible children were finally enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. This is a direct result of the incentives introduced by CHIRPA which reward states for reducing red tape and meeting targets for enrolling children from low-income families. What makes this improvement by states all the more remarkable is that it has been achieved at a time of budget deficits. It is pleasing politicians continue to see the welfare of children as a top priority for government spending.
Immigration has been one of the more controversial of political issues of the last decade. The failure of the Dream Act in the Senate this last December shows how difficult it is to provide a consistent and reasonable basis on which to give immigrants more rights. It therefore makes it all the more pleasing to see states improving their procedures to check citizenship status and expanding coverage to immigrant children and pregnant women who have lawful residence. Thereís also strong progress to encourage community- and faith-based organizations to reach out to the disadvantaged both directly and through local health centers. The idea is to enroll as many of the eligible as possible.
As an example of best practice, the report picks out the work of the Childrenís Defense Fund (Texas) and Fiesta Mart, a chain of neighborhood grocery stores, to hold sign-up sessions, helping people to complete the application forms in areas where there are high levels of poverty. Thereís a similar liaison between the CDF and the Texas Association of School Administrators to help identify students who may be uninsured. For a state so close to the border and often caught up in the politics of immigration, itís good to see Texas held up as a model of how to maximize the total number of people enrolled into Medicaid and CHIP.
The report talks about outreach, hence this article. Whether you know of your rights to have your children enrolled into the state-subsidized schemes, you can help your neighbors by passing on the word. The real promise of all health care should be to treat as many people as need help. If people cannot afford even the cheap health insurance currently available, they are probably eligible for help. This is a right and not something that should cause you or them to feel shame. health insurance is more important for children than arguments and disputes over politics. Letís celebrate as we watch CHIRPA move on toward its third anniversary when hopefully, even more millions of children will be receiving coverage.